Girls Inc.’s Project Accelerate advances gender parity through a reimagining of workplace equality. The Equality Can’t Wait Challenge is hosted by Melinda French Gates’ Pivotal Ventures among other donors leading the charge advancing equity.

Jacksonville, FL August 14, 2023 – In 2021, Girls Inc., the national organization that inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold, received $10M in funding as one of four awardees selected by the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge to benefit its Project Accelerate program. Project Accelerate aims to expand the power and influence of women in the United States by 2030.

Project Accelerate officially launched with the seven Girls Inc. affiliate leads that developed the initiative and spearheaded the application process. This multi-year project aims to expand the reach of Project Accelerate to over 30 locations.

Now in its third year, we are thrilled to announce the addition of eight new affiliates bringing our total to 21 sites. The new Girls Inc. Project Accelerate affiliates include Girls Inc. of Chattanooga, Girls Inc. of Delaware, Girls Inc. of Greater Houston, Girls Inc. of Jacksonville, Girls Inc. of Lynn/Boston, Girls Inc of Metropolitan Dallas, Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest, and Girls Inc. of Tarrant County.

Project Accelerate aims to lift 5,400 diverse women into corporate positions of power and influence. We are thrilled with our progress towards our goal of 30 sites with a total of 21 affiliates in our third year of the initiative,” said Girls Inc. Vice President, Affiliate Services, Niki Kelly. “Our expansion will not only help usreach more markets with diverse communities but also provide positive outcomes for girls and women most often negatively impacted by long-standing, systemic inequities in the workplace.”

Building on Girls Inc.’s evidence-based programming, Project Accelerate addresses inequality in the workplace, particularly the absence of women of color in positions of influence and leadership. The program will accelerate young women’s trajectories through college and career entry, leveraging partnerships with corporations and social impact organizations to ensure both their preparation and their access to positions of influence. Project Accelerate will also reduce the gender gap by working with young women starting as early as their junior year in high school to ensure they have the resources and support to thrive as leaders. Through a network of 76 affiliates, including here in Jacksonville, Florida, Project Accelerate will help shift the equity landscape for generations.

“At Girls Inc. of Jacksonville, we firmly believe in investing in the potential of our girls and young women as they are the leaders of tomorrow’s world. We are committed to fostering holistic growth and nurturing leadership through post-secondary success programming such as Project Accelerate” says Alexis Howard, Girls Inc. of Jacksonville President & CEO. “From personalized professional mentoring and immersive experiential learning that sparks innovation, this program is designed to equip young girls with the skills, knowledge, and opportunities they need to thrive in an ever-evolving world and empower the next generation of female leaders to take charge of their dreams.”

“A generation of bold young women stands ready to lead change in the world. Yet entrenched, inequitable systems prevent them from having the opportunities and resources they need to succeed,” said Girls Inc. President and CEO, Stephanie J. Hull, Ph.D. “Girls Inc. is proven to make a positive difference in the lives of girls. Support from the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge for Project Accelerate extends the proven Girls Inc. Experience through college and into early careers. The investment also supports change in the companies that employ these young leaders. In its insistence on justice and equity for women, Project Accelerate advances equality for all.”

Project Accelerate will prepare thousands of young women leaders not merely to succeed in workplace environments, but also to affect cultural change from within. Expected outcomes include an increased number of young women graduating on time; an increased network of influence for girls from historically marginalized groups; and job placement in high-paying, positions of leadership. In doing so, women will acquire the means and the opportunity to elevate their status—and their families, neighborhoods, communities, and organizations.

The Equality Can’t Wait Challenge, which launched in 2020, is the first competition centered on gender equality in the U.S. with an award of this magnitude and represents an opportunity to invest in and empower women leaders who bring a wide range of lived experiences to their work to advance women’s power and influence in the U.S. Hosted by Pivotal Ventures, with support from MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett, and Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, and managed by Lever for Change, the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge highlights the groundswell of energy and activism of the gender equality movement.

Learn more about Project Accelerate here.

For the full announcement of the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge awardees, please see here.


About Girls Inc. of Jacksonville

Girls Inc. of Jacksonville is dedicated to assuring high-impact services for a growing number of girls and expanding advocacy efforts by setting bold goals and a clear strategic direction. It focuses on the development of the whole girl. Staff members help the young ladies value themselves, take risks and discover inherent strengths. 

ABOUT GIRLS INC.  Girls Inc. is a network of local organizations that works with schools and in communities across the United States and Canada. Through direct service and advocacy, Girls Inc. equips girls -particularly girls from low-income communities and girls of color – with the knowledge and skills to effect positive changes in their lives and to become leaders who will change the world. Professionally trained staff and volunteers provide mentorship, safe spaces, and programming that address the unique challenges girls face and are proven to help girls succeed. Together with partners and supporters, Girls Inc. is building the new generation of leaders. Join us at